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The Unexpected Festival has just wrapped up in Fort Smith, Arkansas, a production of the good folks over at JustKids. The mural festival was organized to revitalize the downtown and waterfront of Fort Smith, by bringing vibrant murals to city walls in 8 days by 7 artists from 6 countries. Artist lineup includes: ROA, Vhils, ASKEW, Ana María, Maser, Bicicleta Sem Freio, and featured artist for this week’s article, D*Face! As one of the most active and recognized artists today, D*Face has been busy busy for years now, traveling around the world producing both large-scale murals and noteworthy gallery shows. In a different direction than his usual high impact pop-art style, the British artist took a more subtle approach on one of his two pieces for the festival that speaks to people and place, culture and history. Entitled “Trail of Tears”, this mural depicts a single white line heart painted on a raw red brick wall with many arrows around it and one within it on a red bullseye. Well designed and thought provoking, the piece can be taken many ways by viewers. However, the meaning is in the title – “Trail of Tears”.

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After some research D*Face wanted to paint a tribute to local Native American history of the area. In 1838 and 1839 the Cherokee Native Americans were forced from their lands, across the Mississippi to present day Oklahoma as part of the Indian Removal Act. Because of this violent and tragic forced removal, the migration of the people is referred to the as the Trail of Tears. Perhaps the heart with one arrow in it is their original, lost land. Perhaps it is the new home they had to make. How do you perceive it? Thank you, D*Face, for touching on a heartbreaking social event from our past that we are still see the repercussions from today. Here at 1AM we see the message of let us not forget, so we may learn and not repeat.

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(photos © Rom Levy, story awareness via Street Art News)